Working as volunteers at a Vernon street clinic, Ron Birch and the late Joe Dorval went for coffee one morning and started talking about Christmas.
The two men reminisced about the holidays and how it was such an important family time, but both realized, through their volunteer efforts, there were those who had nowhere to go on Christmas Day.
It was Dorval who noted that lots of organizations do Christmas dinners but nobody did a dinner for these folks on Christmas Day. The two men started Together For Christmas and hosted their first dinner on Dec. 25.
“When we started, our focus was the homeless and the working poor,” said Birch. “But at the first dinner, there were so many people that were alone or didn’t have family nearby and wanted or needed something to do on Christmas.”
The event continues, and the ninth annual Together For Christmas is set for Monday, Dec. 25, from 2:30 p.m. to “whenever the last guest is fed, happy and ready to go,” said Birch, at St. James School.
“The majority of our focus is still on the homeless and poor, but it’s open to anybody who is alone or lonely. You can be a billionaire or have nothing to your name,” said Birch.
Last year’s event saw the Together For Christmas Society serve 300 sit-down meals in the school, and delivered another 75 to shut-ins who couldn’t make it out.
“We will pick people up to bring them to the dinner,” said Birch. “We have a transportation pool. And, of course, we’ll take them home.”
There is no cost. If you’re interested in the dinner, simply show up. If you need a ride, call Jae at 250-308-9973.
Together For Christmas gets donations from different organizations. All the food is fresh and the menu is the traditional Christmas fare of turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and homemade stuffing. Desserts have been made as the society hosted a baking bee to prepare for the event.
“Nothing is store-bought,” said Birch.
After the doors open, there is entertainment throughout the event, and crafts will be done prior to dinner. That includes icing gingerbread cookies made by a society member.
Dinner is served at 4 p.m.